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Simple Assault vs. Aggravated Assault in Florida: Legal Differences

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Have You Been Charged With Assault?

In or near the Fort Lauderdale area, if you are charged with simple assault or with aggravated assault, you are going to need legal help immediately, so you must contact the offices of a Fort Lauderdale assault lawyer as quickly as possible.

Simple assault and aggravated assault are common crimes in this state, but that doesn’t mean these charges are trivial. They’re serious. If you are charged with committing an assault, you must have an effective defense strategy and a lawyer who will fight for the justice you need.

What constitutes simple assault in the State of Florida? What constitutes aggravated assault? What are the penalties if you are convicted of simple assault or aggravated assault, and how will a Fort Lauderdale assault attorney help you if you are charged with one of these crimes?

What is Simple Assault?

An assault charge in Florida does not require a victim to be injured. In fact, an assault charge does not require the perpetrator to make any physical contact whatsoever with a victim.

Instead, simple assault is defined by Florida law as an intentional, unlawful threat that one person makes to another to create a reasonable fear that harm or violence is about to occur. If you are charged with simple assault, in order to convict you, the state must prove:

  1.  You unlawfully and intentionally threatened, by act or word, to commit violence against the alleged victim.
  2.  You appeared to be able to carry out the threat when you made it.
  3.  You created in the alleged victim’s mind a justifiable fear that violence was about to happen.

Simple assault cases in Florida are usually prosecuted as second-degree misdemeanors that may be penalized upon conviction with a fine and with probation or a jail sentence.

What is Aggravated Assault?

Aggravated assault is a more serious assault charge that involves either the intention to commit a felony or to use a deadly weapon. It’s not as common as simple assault, but in 2022, law enforcement officers in Florida made more than 12,000 arrests for aggravated assault.

To convict someone of aggravated assault, the state must prove the three elements necessary for a simple assault conviction (listed above), and the state also must prove that the assault was made with a deadly weapon or with a conscious, “fully-formed” intention to commit a felony.

The penalties are severe for an aggravated assault conviction. A convicted offender, and even a first-time offender who has been convicted of aggravated assault, may serve a lengthy prison sentence and face a costly fine.

Do Aggravated Assault Convictions Entail Additional Penalties?

In this state, aggravated assault is a third-degree felony, so an aggravated assault conviction can stay on your record for life. A convicted offender may have difficulty finding housing or employment. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you could become subject to deportation.

If you hold a professional license in this state, a conviction for aggravated assault could trigger a revocation or suspension of your professional license by your state licensing board.

If You Are Placed Under Arrest

If you are taken into police custody and charged with simple or aggravated assault in South Florida, you have the right to remain silent. If the police want to interrogate you, say something like, “I prefer not to answer questions until my attorney can be present,” and say nothing more.

Don’t make any statement to anyone other than your lawyer. Your lawyer may attempt to have the charge dropped or the case dismissed. If neither of those options is possible, you may demand a trial by jury where your lawyer will explain to the jurors why you should be acquitted.

But if the evidence of your guilt is conclusive, and if your conviction is inevitable, your defense attorney may negotiate for an acceptable plea bargain. A plea bargain typically entails entering a guilty plea to a reduced charge in return for a lesser or alternative sentence.

Don’t accept or reject any plea deal until you have discussed it with your attorney, and do not try to act as your own attorney if you are charged with assault. Any mistake that you make could lead to a conviction. You must have a Fort Lauderdale assault lawyer advise and represent you.

How Do You Fight an Assault Charge?

Self-defense, the defense of property, and the defense of another person are frequently offered as defenses in simple assault and aggravated assault cases. Other defenses that are sometimes offered in these cases include:

  1.  You have been misidentified and another person actually committed the assault.
  2.  The assault claim is fabricated and no assault actually happened.

If you’re charged with simple assault or with aggravated assault, your Fort Lauderdale assault attorney will study the particulars of the charge and prepare an aggressive, effective defense strategy. The details of the charge will determine the details of the strategy your lawyer prepares.

What Else Should You Know About Assault Charges?

If you are charged – now or in the future – with simple assault or aggravated assault, contact a South Florida criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. Your attorney will need time to review the evidence, develop your defense strategy, and interview any witnesses.

The right criminal defense lawyer will bring your simple or aggravated assault case to its best possible outcome. But with literally thousands of lawyers practicing in South Florida, how can you find a defense lawyer who will fight for the justice you need and make your case a priority?

George Reres Law Will Fight for the Justice You Need

Anywhere in or near the Fort Lauderdale area, if you’re charged with simple or aggravated assault, the award-winning legal team at George Reres Law will protect your rights, find the truth about what actually happened, and bring the case to its best possible resolution.

The criminal defense lawyers at George Reres Law understand that an assault conviction will have serious ramifications for your family and your future. We are committed to offering you the effective representation and personalized attention that every client deserves.

If you are facing either a simple assault charge or an aggravated assault charge – now or in the future – contact George Reres Law immediately. Call us at 954-543-1186 to arrange an in-depth evaluation of your case – without cost or obligation.

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